Career Advice for the Smart Job Seeker
Insights on elevating your resume, job search and personal growth
Enhancing Your Professional Brand
Have you ever thought about how you project yourself to potential employers?
Whether you’re actively or passively looking, any hiring manager who comes across your details will form an immediate impression based on how you present yourself, both digitally and on paper. That initial impression can decide if they pick up the phone and get in touch – or move on to the next candidate.
In this article, we’ll explain what your ‘professional brand’ is, and share seven ways to project a strong image that will entice hiring managers, recruiters, and headhunters. We’ll also share examples of how you can achieve this.
What is a ‘Professional Brand’?
Your professional brand is a unique combination of your passions, experiences, personality, and values that sets you apart from other job seekers. It’s the essence of who you are as a professional.
This can be determined through your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, social media presence (profiles and well as comments), online forums you participate in, and so on.
Without meeting you, these factors are all that potential employers have to go by to decide if you’d be a great job and cultural fit for their organisation.
That’s why it’s vital to ensure that whichever elements they come across, you project a professional, experienced, and positive image of yourself.
8 Ways to Strengthen Your Professional Brand Image
#1 Your Interests and Passions
Your passions and interests reflect your genuine enthusiasm and engagement in specific areas of your life. They reveal your unique personality and what truly motivates you. For example, if you’re passionate about environmental sustainability, might be seen through your involvement in eco-friendly initiatives, such as volunteering for a local wildlife group or implementing green practices in previous workplaces.
Showcase your passions by sharing your experiences on your personal blog or social media, and networking with like-minded professionals. When job seeking, look for companies that align with your passions. In your resume, passion areas relevant to the job you’re applying for can be incorporated in your professional summary, key skills box, job descriptions, and of course your Hobbies & Interests section. Not only does this highlight your interests, but it can lead to great icebreaker conversation starters during an interview.
#2 Your Education and Career History
Almost more than any other element, your career and academic history reflect your professional brand. The choices you’ve made and the direction you’ve taken are resounding evidence of how you’ve shaped your image as a professional throughout your career.
Ensure that relevant qualifications and certifications are outlined on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Consider mentioning key subjects from your degree (especially if these form useful keywords for recruiters, such as ‘AI in Education’). Continue learning and upgrading your skills through courses, workshops, or certifications relevant to your field. Share any certificates or course reflections on LinkedIn (these days, many training / education providers enable a ‘Share on LinkedIn’ feature to announce the successful completion of a course).
#3 Your Personality and Ideal Culture Fit
Your personality traits and your compatibility with a company’s culture are absolutely critical components of your personal brand.
For example, if you’re an introvert who thrives in a collaborative yet highly independent environment, emphasise previous responsibilities and achievements in your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn that demonstrate this. During interviews, emphasize your cultural fit and provide examples of how you’ve thrived in similar environments. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the company’s culture to ensure it will be a positive fit for you personality and professional ambitions.
#4 Your Professional Values
Your professional values define your ethical standards, principles, and what you stand for in your career. Companies tend to seek out employees with similar qualities. So it’s important to ensure that this comes across clearly in your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn (and, later on, in your interview question responses).
As an example, if integrity is one of your core values, highlight in your resume and LinkedIn how your accomplishments consistently reflect honesty and transparency in the workplace. Reflect on your values and make them visible in your resume and LinkedIn summary. If you need inspiration about keywords to include, take a look at the corporate values on the websites of company’s you admire. These keywords have typically been discussed, reviewed, then approved by multiple internal stakeholders, so tend to be reliable indicators of appropriate phrasing to use in your resume and LinkedIn.
#5 Your Strengths and Skills
Your strengths and skills are the competencies and abilities that make you a valuable asset to employers. Potential employers will be on the lookout for these in your resume and LinkedIn before getting in touch.
For example, if you excel in data analysis, showcase specific projects where you utilized your data-driven insights to drive business growth. Highlight these strengths and skills on your resume, LinkedIn profile, and in interviews, providing strong examples of how they’ve benefited your previous employers.
#6 Your Digital Presence
Your digital presence encompasses your online identity, including your personal social media profiles and professional platforms like LinkedIn. For example, your LinkedIn profile should be complete and professional, featuring a well-written summary, a professional photo, and testimonials from colleagues, peers, or mentors.
Ensure a powerful professional brand by regularly updating your LinkedIn profile to reflect your current skills and experiences. Share strategic content and engage with your network through insightful comments and posts. And don’t forget your personal social media: either set accounts to minimal visibility so only your friends can see these, or go through your publicly-accessible posts and other content to ensure you present yourself in a professional light (you never know if a potential employer will review them – over 90% do!).
#7 Your ‘On Paper’ Presence (Resume)
Your resume is a concise summary of your education, work history, skills, and achievements. A professional brand-driven resume will clearly highlight your career progression, quantify your accomplishments, and align with the job you’re applying for.
To take your resume to the next level, tailor it for each job application, emphasizing the skills and experiences most relevant to the position. Use strong action verbs and quantifiable achievements to make your resume stand out. Seek feedback from peers or professional resume writers to ensure it effectively represents the image you’d like to project. The same goes for your cover letter: ensure the tone, language, and keywords reflect your unique professional brand.
Building a strong professional brand image is essential for job seekers looking to differentiate themselves from the competition.
By focusing on these seven areas – your passions and interests, education and work experience, personality and culture fit, professional values, strengths and skills, digital presence, and your resume – you can create a compelling ‘brand’ that will not only attract potential employers, but also enhance your overall professional image.
• Your professional brand is a combination of your passions, experiences, personality, and values that make you unique as a job seeker. It’s how you present yourself both online and on paper
• Highlight your interests and passions by sharing experiences in your resume, LinkedIn, on social media and by networking with like-minded professionals
• Your academic and career history are absolutely vital components of your professional brand. Highlight relevant responsibilities, accomplishments, qualifications and certifications that showcase the image you’d like to project
• Your compatibility with a company’s culture and your personality traits extremely important to your long term satisfaction and desire to work there. Communicate this to potential employers by tailoring your resume, cover letter, and interview responses to emphasize how you thrive in specific work environments
• Your standards and principles define your professional values. Make sure these are evident in your resume and LinkedIn to align with the values of the companies you most admire (and hope to attract)
• Highlight specific strengths and skills that make you a valuable asset to certain types of employers. Use specific examples in your resume, LinkedIn profile, and interviews to demonstrate this
• Maintain a professional online presence, especially on LinkedIn. Regularly update your profile, share relevant content, and engage with your network. Don’t forget to audit your personal social media to ensure a professional image
• Your resume should reflect your professional brand. Tailor it for each job application, use strong action verbs, and seek feedback from peers or former colleagues to ensure it effectively represents the image you’d like to project